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Upgrade to Active Learning

Posted by Stephen Hager

We’re pleased to introduce guest blogger, Aditya Singhal, co-founder of Transtutors.com, and share with you his active learning techniques to supplement traditional classroom learning. Can you find examples of how a teacher might engage students’ sensory and cognitive strengths using these techniques?

Some learn best while following instructions, some learn best while reading and others learn while doing.  Active learning is anything that involves students doing things and thinking about what they are doing. Anything that engages the student in an experiential activity-based lesson can be classified as active learning. In this method, the responsibility of learning lies with the student. Studies show that active learning strategies are much better recalled, enjoyed and understood as compared to passive learning or the lecture format.

Active learning is based on the simple principle that people generally remember 90% of what they do as compared to 20% of what they hear and only 10% of what they read. Students absorb new knowledge through organizing information and manipulating material rather than just reading, listening and note-taking. Active learning increases student interest, motivation and attendance. The best part is that the student learns to take learning into their hands. They learn how to monitor their own learning and invest in class to succeed.

Active learning can be used in a number of cases to supplement traditional teaching methods. Create opportunities to involve students in the process of learning. Here are a few useful examples:

  1. Peer Teaching: Assign a topic to students, ask them to research, gather information and prepare a presentation. The presentation can be done in groups, pairs or individually. Students feel more comfortable and open interacting with their peers.
  2. Field Visit: This is a chance for students to learn outside the classroom. The activity can be planned as an incentive and an opportunity to further their learning. Take for example a visit to a neighboring dam to learn about the importance of water for living and agriculture. Allow time for pre-visit research and class discussions. During the visit, groups of students can experience various elements of what goes into building a dam, measuring the width of the dam, drawing the kinds of vegetation surrounding the dam, participating in a talk by one of the government engineers. After the visit, groups can exchange information through presentations or reports.
  3. Flipped Classroom: In the traditional model, teachers give lectures in the classroom, students take notes, teachers assign homework, students complete assignments and are graded accordingly. In the flipped classroom, lectures are delivered online at their own pace, communicating with peers and teachers via online discussions and the classroom is used as a place for activity and engagement-based learning. This method gives students the chance to absorb information in a relaxed environment, taking the time they need to grasp new concepts and in the classroom it gives them the opportunity learn through activity. The classroom becomes a safe learning environment where questions are encouraged and doubts are cleared. Teachers can be more hands-on with concepts that students don’t understand and support students in solving problems in class.
  4. Minute Paper: Even in a regular lecture based class, teachers can make an effort to include active learning practices. One of the techniques found to be exceptionally rewarding is the one minute pause. In this method, the lecture is paused just for a minute and students are asked to hand in a short assignment on what they have just learnt. Introducing a writing activity in the middle of the listening activity not only provides a much-needed change of pace, but also makes sure the students attention span is maximized.
  5. Think-Pair-Share: Have students first work on a problem individually and then compare answers with their partners and present their findings to the class. This technique incorporates peer learning and group work.
  6. Brainstorming: Pose a problem and ask for solutions from the class. Provide enough time for teams to collate possible solutions and discuss the best possible outcomes. Interactive learning techniques can help boost the confidence of the students and encourage teamwork.
  7. Pass the problem: Add a twist to the brainstorming sessions by introducing a folder in which one group’s solution is collected and passed on to the next group for the next level of problem-solving. This way the more complex the question, the more participative the solution becomes.
  8. Icebreaker Review: Best suited to the first class of the term, this activity serves as an introductory crash course. Write a set of 10-20 questions pertaining to topics you would expect the students to know about from the previous term. Each student gets a card with one question and its answer. The task is to find the answer to all the questions. Students exchange information and review answers together until all the required information is with each of them.
  9. The Fish Bowl: A simple and easy-to-implement technique to encourage students to ask questions without hesitation. At the end of the class, each student writes down his/her question and places it in the fishbowl/cardboard box/hat. The most asked question can be the topic for discussion in the next class.
  10. Student Debate: An interactive method to provoke research and discussion. Students have to present their point of view with relevant supporting arguments. This technique not only encourages verbal presentation but also shows both sides of the story when it comes to challenging topics.

Active Learning Techniques are not only beneficial to the students but also the teacher. Active participation from the students ensures that concepts are understood not only in their rudimentary form but also in their application in problem-solving. Methods like peer teaching and the flipped classroom save precious time on both sides of the classroom.

 

AUTHORSHIP: Aditya Singhal is the co-founder of Transtutors.com (www.transtutors.com), a leading online tutoring help for college students. Having graduated from prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), he worked briefly with American Consulting firm, Kurt Salmon Associates before taking the entrepreneurial route. Outside the work ambit, Aditya has a personal interest in helping students in their career aspiration and skill development. He is also actively involved in giving back to the society by contributing a part of the revenue towards education of poor students in India. 

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Looking for the Best Online University?

Posted by Stephen Hager

Are you feeling stressed about the challenges of continuing education to advance your career? Perhaps you are returning for retooling, or enrolling for the first time. Your pathway to a successful career begins with two steps, if your goals require an educational degree.  

  • Step 1: Identify the best university for you.
  • Step 2: Successfully complete the program and get your degree.

Identify the Best Online University

In today’s busy and frantic world, you must use time wisely to enhance your quality of life. Online universities offer options and flexibility not available from traditional institutions. However, it can be a daunting task to research accredited online universities and align your needs with their programs, degrees, curriculum, tuitions structure, and philosophy.  It’s important to get this done quickly and efficiently for your peace of mind. Unless you get this first step right, you’ll be wasting lots of money and time, not to mention the additional stress from an avoidable mistake.

I have had the opportunity to gain personal experience with bestonlineuniversities.com, a website that exceeds my expectations for “One Stop, Full Service.” It’s kind of like going to Travelocity or Orbitz to plan and book a vacation, but for online education. Besides user friendly interfaces to access and analyze over 1,000 accredited online degree programs, the site offers valuable articles and an extensive library of resources for achieving your academic and career goals.

Best Online Universities CEO, Scott Hawksworth says, “Since our inception in January 2010, Best Online Universities LLC has been committed to developing quality niche websites to help students accomplish their career and education goals- and we always will be.“

Best Online Universities has researched and made available an extensive list of resources on The Science of Learning. “Researchers in neuroscience, psychology and education are uncovering new information about how brains learn best at an unbelievable pace. We have more insight into the brain’s learning processes than at any other moment in history, and we are poised on the brink of a radical shift of how we think about education.”

Successfully Complete Your Program

Now that you’ve breezed through identifying the best online university, the next challenge is completing your program with enthusiasm, ease, and great grades. Unfortunately, few students have mastered the life competency of “learning how to learn.”  Brain PathWays for Academic Success, based on recent advances in neuroscience and personalized, accelerated learning strategies, is the most comprehensive system available for adult learning success; it teaches strategies for aligning learning with your brain’s preference for taking in and retaining information. Doesn’t it make sense that when you learn in the way your brain learns best, you will experience less stress and learn more, faster?

In summary, you can eliminate much of the stress of selecting the best online university, and succeeding academically, by researching programs online, and using resources such as Brain PathWays for Academic Success, or those presented in the Science of Learning article. It’s never too late to learn and develop the life skill of “learning how to learn.” The rewards of “being the best you can be” through continuous learning and improvement are priceless and last a lifetime.

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Neu Who?

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The “neu who” is a “neu” you! The “neu” in neuidentity represents using the power of neuroscience to reinvent yourself. No matter how old you are, your situation, or your circumstance, you can create a better life with the “power within.” Think of your brain as computer hardware and what it stores as the software. The software is your “operating system” for how you interpret and experience life.

You may not be aware that your brain is innocent and childlike; this applies to people of all ages. Your early software was built by parents, teachers, friends, religious authorities and life experiences. You had no trustworthy internal mechanism to judge the value and truth of what you took in; this process continues today from life and social media.

What’s stored in your brain and how you use it defines the life you experience. As you become more conscious of your beliefs and what you think about, you build the foundation to gain greater control of your life. Imagine no longer being a victim of unconscious programming that holds you back from that better life you so richly deserve.

This quick 3-step DIY exercise gets you started to be a neu and better you:

1. Pay attention to what you think about
Take 20 minutes after you get up in the morning and pay attention to your stream of thoughts. Pick a quiet and comfortable place to sit and write down your thoughts. Neither try to initiate, nor stop thinking; thoughts will come of their own accord. Pay attention to the way each thought makes you feel; then, record positive and negative symbols next to each thought. This exercise gives you a diagnostic view of what’s going on “under your hood.”

2. Use “high road” thinking to cancel out negative programming
Every thought with a negative feeling can be cancelled out with “high road” thinking and behaviors. As an example, you may experience fear about your financial situation. Make a list of your beliefs about your finances; they may include scarcity, competition, unworthiness, helplessness and victimhood. Reverse these beliefs with their positive counterparts; your neu thinking is now abundance, cooperation, worthiness, capable and captain-of-your-life. Even if you don’t believe this, “fake it until you make it.”

3. Use your brain strengths in a conscious manner
When you know your brain strengths you can leverage them to process incoming information, examine your beliefs and implement high road behaviors. Now your strengths are working for you instead of against you.

When you change your thinking, your behaviors automatically change; then, outer-world experiences automatically change. You can trust your brain to correct and change what’s holding you back from being the best you can be. The key is to keep thinking on the “high road” until your desired outcomes occur. Change your thinking, change your life.

Neuidentity.com, with its myriad of products, services and resources provides you with trusted practical neuroscience knowledge and tools to be a “neu you.” You can do it!

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